June 14, 2008
Golden Triangle (12th and Acoma, Denver)
By Brian. Johnson
One might wonder why I would take the time to attend the annual Denver Westword Music Showcase. I mean, it’s put together by, all about and presented by Westword. Aren’t they supposed to be competition to The Marquee? Well, yeah, maybe. But I don’t really give a crap.
I’ve been to the Showcase for the last three years in a row, and I feel that the event is one of the great things that Denver has going for it. It turns the Golden Triangle neighborhood into a miniature SxSW for an afternoon, gives local bands a chance to get in front of some large crowds and makes us feel – if only for an afternoon – that the entire Denver music community is one big, happy, united family.
Falling the day before Father’s Day, I figured it’d be a great idea to take the entire family to see some rock. Our two youngest have seen the Showcase’s national headliners Drive-By Truckers several times. This time we figured we’d bring our hip-hop crazed 14 year-old daughter, and I even invited the in-laws.
In hind sight maybe that wasn’t such a great idea. The outdoor stage was all ages, so we set up camp as a family. If you were there we were the obnoxious bunch with a line of camping chairs taking up a whole giant spot in the highly-coveted shaded area. The bummer was that most of the other venues were 21 and over. So while I had promised our 14 year old that she would be able to get to see some hip-hop, I ended up being a big, fat liar as the security at those venues was tight enough that they wouldn’t let me take her in, even for one song. What a pisser!
The other reason that the whole family entourage idea wasn’t the best is retrospect is that once we settled into the outdoor stage, we were treated to a non-stop parade of hoochies in front of us. I swear to God, Diamond Cabaret must have been having a field trip, or something. I thought that at any minute my father in-law was going to get an unsolicited lap dance.
Girls, I’ve got a tip for ya: Just because you can wear five pounds of makeup and only five ounces of clothes, it doesn’t mean you should. By the way, am I the only one who is really sick of everyone having a camera everywhere they go these days? I understand it. Take a picture. Capture the moment. But if your entire evening consists of taking photo after photo of you and your friends holding up drinks, you’ve got to get a life.
Those issues aside though, Ra Ra Riot put on a great set. I really feel for bands who play that late-afternoon set, directly in the heat. It must suck. But they stuck it out and even managed to get our girl to smile a few times.
Drive-By Truckers first couple of songs kind of sucked. Their sound was off and I think that was throwing off the band’s timing. But once that got straightened out, the band blazed through a blistering set of newish material, as well as some of their songs that are quick becoming classics.
The Showcase struggles with the fact that the entire crowd is spread out over nine square blocks in eight different venues. At times in the afternoon, the crowd at the outdoor stage looked downright pitiful, but as the Truckers set carried on, it filled up nicely, and I just know that the bars were still pulling their weight. Nice work, Westword. Seriously, nice work!